Bipartisan lawmakers to introduce bill allowing social media users to transfer data

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers is expected to introduce legislation on Tuesday that they say will foster competition between social media companies. 

The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act would allow users to move their data to a competing network. 

{mosads}Communications platforms with more than 100 million monthly active users would be required to maintain systems to facilitate the transfer of user data “to a user, or to a competing communications provider acting at the direction of a user.”

The legislation will be introduced by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), according to a statement from Warner’s office. 

It comes during a time when social media giants face scrutiny and questions as to whether they use their size to overwhelm the competition and take advantage of users. 

“Your data is your property. Period. Consumers should have the flexibility to choose new online platforms without artificial barriers to entry. This bill creates long-overdue requirements that will boost competition and give consumers the power to move their data from one service to another,” Hawley said in the statement. 

“The tremendous dominance of a handful of large platforms also has major downsides – including few options for consumers who want to use social media to connect with friends, store their photos or just watch cat videos, but who face a marketplace with just a few major players and little in the way of real competition,” said Warner. 

In the statement, Blumenthal directly called out Google and Facebook. 

“The exclusive dominance of Facebook and Google have crowded out the meaningful competition that is needed to protect online privacy and promote technological innovation,” he said. “The bipartisan ACCESS Act would empower consumers to finally stand up to Big Tech and move their data to services that respect their rights.”

Kevin Martin, Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy, expressed support for allowing users to move data in a statement to The Hill. 

“We believe people should be able to move their data from one service or app to another. We look forward to continuing our work with Sen. Warner and his colleagues, the Data Transfer Project and others on this important principle,” Martin said. 

A company spokesperson also pointed out that CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed support for data portability in a March Washington Post op-ed

“If you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. This gives people choice and enables developers to innovate and compete,” he wrote at the time. 

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft in 2018 launched the Data Transfer Project, according to a Google statement which described the project as “an open source initiative dedicated to developing tools that will enable consumers to transfer their data directly from one service to another.” 

Google said in the statement last year that the project was part of its “commitment” to data portability.

Tags Big tech data sharing Facebook Google Josh Hawley Mark Warner Mark Zuckerberg Richard Blumenthal Social media

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